Let's say you're a High School student who has made the decision to supplement your high school education with an online class in E-School. At first, your thought process goes something like this:

"Sure, I know how to use a computer... I have an Internet connection... and I'm doing alright in my classes. All I really had to do was show up (most of the time), sit in the classes, and let the teachers tell me what to know!"

Then after your first set of assignments you wonder, "Gee, this online education is tougher than I thought. I'm not doing so well. What's wrong? It sounded so easy!"

You realize that online education is harder than you thought. Most often it is harder than going to "regular" school. Why? Students find themselves not prepared. Here's what a student needs to do in order to succeed in a virtual class.

Fast Internet and computer. Having access to the fastest Internet connectivity possible and a good speedy computer is more important than you might think. You are going to be online EVERYDAY (that turns out to be very important - EVERYDAY - so I will capitalize it!). You really don't have the time and probably the patience to wait...and wait... for all of the web pages and online videos to load slowly. Also, many of the technologies that are used in these online courses require computers with a modern operating system and a speedy processor to make the course satisfying or even doable. So having a fast Internet connection and computer is very important to your success.

Good basic computer skills. A successful student needs a broad set of digital skills, so just being able to cruise the Internet is not enough. At bare minimum, you need to possess a word processing program and understand how to use it. Saving a file, finding files after you save them, saving files in different formats, and using the thesaurus and spelling checker are some of the required skills of word processing. Also having a basic understanding of Internet technologies such as browsers, commom browser plug-ins (PDF, QuickTime, Real Audio), HTML, FTP are more advanced skills that are not necessarily required, but can be helpful to you.

Be motivated. As it turns out, the most important characteristic of successful online students is their motivation. In fact, highly motivated students in E-School have proven to succeed even with a serious disadvantage in the two earlier mentioned technical "requirements." It may be a struggle but you can succeed with a "can do" attitude to get it done. That's it! You just got to do the WORK. That means creating a schedule and hitting your classes and working online EVERYDAY! Does that mean weekends? In your "regular" school classes you sometimes do homework on weekends, don't you? The good thing about online classes is you really don't, most of the time, have to do it between 8:00 am and 2:00pm. You can do your work at 11:00 pm if you want. You must remain in almost daily communication with your online teacher. Using email, threaded discussions and attending scheduled live chat times. Most of them do not mind even if you call them.

Participation. Please remember that you cannot sit in class and listen any more. Online classes are designed for participation. You must PARTICIPATE in the gathering, understanding and the communication of knowledge in your class. Is that harder? Maybe! But it can also be much more satisfying as you learn that your thoughts, ideas and personal experiences are valuable, have weight and are necessary to the success of the class. You will use the skills you learn and employ in your online classes well after your high school experience. So, Students, make sure you make a schedule to do the work and a promise to yourself to commit to actively PARTICIPATING in your education.